Tuesday, March 26, 2019

#88 Backstory of the Poem "HAT" by Bob Heman

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***This is the eighty-eighth in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

#88 Backstory of the Poem “HAT” by Bob Heman
Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?  “Hat” is one of the 81 experimental prose poems, written between 1984 and 1986 using an experimental method, which are included in my new book, The House of Grand Farewells.

Each of us has a pool of words we usually draw upon when we speak (words that we feel comfortable with and that we use without any special thought).  We also have another larger pool that we draw upon in a similar way when we write.  Usually we use these words (and combine them with other words) in a certain way.  

In constructing the poems gathered in The House of Grand Farewells I used a method that attempted to alter my writing both by including words I would not ordinarily use, and by combining words in unusual ways, different than my ordinary way of writing.  As part of the process I used a book that listed words alphabetically (a book of frequently misspelled words during the first year of the project, and a dictionary for the second and third years).  

I would start by opening the book at random, scanning the words on the facing pages until my eyes landed upon one that caught my imagination.  Then I would open the book again at random in a different place, and again scan the facing pages until I found another word that caught my eye and seemed to make a connection with the first. I’d continue doing this until the piece seemed complete, formed by combining the random act of opening the book and scanning the page, with the conscious act of choosing a word that seemed to “connect” in some way with the previously chosen word(s). In this way I produced poems that I never would have written under normal circumstances.  The results were often surprising, even to myself.

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem?  And please describe the place in great detail. "Hat" was written on the typewriter at work (as were all the pieces in The House of Grand Farewells) when I was working at the World Trade Center - I would write on my lunch hour and break using my typewriter there.  Once I left the job in 1995 I started writing almost exclusively in pocket notebooks on the train going to work (or when I was in the laundromat or in waiting rooms) - that continued until I retired two years ago - once i retired I've continued writing in pocket notebooks but have been on the trains less frequently, so I have started writing more on my PC - i haven't even owned a working typewriter for decades (after i gave mine to my son) –

What month and year did you start writing this poem? It was written on March 12, 1985.

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?) It is possible an article or two might have been changed, but it is essentially how it was originally written.  

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem?  I would hope they’d take from this poem a suggestive experience that would stimulate their imaginations, and perhaps give them a small sense of foreboding.

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? Because of my method of composition, emotion is not foremost in the writing of these poems, but implied sense of doom in “Hat” does have a sort o emotional “charge” for me.

Has this poem been published before?  And if so where? It first appeared in my chapbook, Some Footnotes for the Future, which was published in 1986 by Luna Bisonte Prods.

Anything you would like to add?  I consider myself a poet of the imagination, which frequently invades my writing not only in its subject matter, but also in its form and approach, and sometimes in the process of its composition. 
What my poems mean is their experience upon the reader or listener (and the way they perhaps transform the experiencer in some small way). While the poems of The House of Grand Farewells frequently resemble surrealism, they also often contain obvious or implied narrative content as well. 

The hat keeps latent midgets from operating on your paranoia. Monkeys watch from a safe distance, hoping to avenge their chastisement. The opposite of the mud is always the minister. Their game founders in the epistemological jungle that implicates our furious beginnings. The hat mutates into something gigantic that occupies the entire sky. From its angle something frightening is born.

from The House of Grand Farewells

Bob Heman’s latest collection, THE HOUSE OF GRAND FAREWELLS, has just been published by Luna Bisonte Prods. His writing has appeared in numerous journals, including New American Writing, Caliban, Otoliths, Sentence, Kayak, The Prose Poem: An International Journal, Hanging Loose, Quick Fiction, Artful Dodge, and Skidrow Penthouse. Two collections of his prose poems, HOW IT ALL BEGAN, and DEMOGRAPHICS, OR, THE HATS THEY ARE ALLOWED TO WEAR, are available as free downloads from Quale Press.

His collages have appeared recently in Otoliths, Caliban, Home Planet News Online, and Clockwise Cat, and have been exhibited in galleries in Chelsea, D.U.M.B.O., Williamsburg, and the East Village.  During the late 1970s he was an artist-in-residence at The Brooklyn Museum.

Since 1972 he has edited the often-experimental magazine CLWN WR (formerly Clown War). 

A small collection of some of his collaborations with Cindy Hochman, titled The Number 5 is Always Suspect, is upcoming from Presa Press.


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”

036  October 30, 2018
Gary Glauber’s “The Second Breakfast”

037  November 04, 2018
Heather Forbes-McKeon’s “Melania’s Deaf Tone Jacket”

038 November 11, 2018
Andrena Zawinski’s “Women of the Fields”

039  November 00, 2018
Gordon Hilger’s “Poe”

040 November 16, 2018
Rita Quillen’s “My Children Question Me About Poetry” and “Deathbed Dreams”

041 November 20, 2018
Jonathan Kevin Rice’s “Dog Sitting”

042 November 22, 2018
Haroldo Barbosa Filho’s “Mountain”

043  November 27, 2018
Megan Merchant’s “Grief Flowers”

044 November 30, 2018
Jonathan P Taylor’s “This poem is too neat”

045  December 03, 2018
Ian Haight’s “Sungmyo for our Dead Father-in-Law”

046 December 06, 2018
Nancy Dafoe’s “Poem in the Throat”

047 December 11, 2018
Jeffrey Pearson’s “Memorial Day”

048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
Jennifer Martelli’s “Anniversary”

O50  December 19, 2018
Joseph Ross’s For Gilberto Ramos, 15, Who Died in the Texas Desert, June 2014”

051 December 23, 2018
“The Persistence of Music”
by Anatoly Molotkov

052  December 27, 2018
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

053  December 28, 2018
“Grand Finale”
by Renuka Raghavan

054  December 29, 2018
by Gene Barry

055 January 2, 2019
by Larissa Shmailo

056  January 7, 2019
“The Seamstress:
by Len Kuntz

057  January 10, 2019
"Natural History"
by Camille T Dungy

058  January 11, 2019
by Brian Burmeister

059  January 12, 2019
by Clint Margrave

060 January 14, 2019
by Pat Durmon

061 January 19, 2019
“Neptune’s Choir”
by Linda Imbler

062  January 22, 2019
“Views From the Driveway”
by Amy Barone

063  January 25, 2019
“The heron leaves her haunts in the marsh”
by Gail Wronsky

064  January 30, 2019
by Terry Lucas

065 February 02, 2019
“Summer 1970, The University of Virginia Opens to Women in the Fall”
by Alarie Tennille

066 February 05, 2019
“At School They Learn Nouns”
by Patrick Bizzaro

067  February 06, 2019
“I Must Not Breathe”
by Angela Jackson-Brown

068 February 11, 2019
“Lunch on City Island, Early June”
by Christine Potter

069 February 12, 2019
by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum

070 February 14, 2019
“Daily Commute”
by Christopher P. Locke

071 February 18, 2019
“How Silent The Trees”
by Wyn Cooper

072 February 20, 2019
“A New Psalm of Montreal”
by Sheenagh Pugh

073 February 23, 2019
“Make Me A Butterfly”
by Amy Barbera

074 February 26, 2019
by Sandy Coomer

075 March 4, 2019
“Shape of a Violin”
by Kelly Powell

076 March 5, 2019
“Inward Oracle”
by J.P. Dancing Bear

077 March 7, 2019
“I Broke My Bust Of Jesus”
by Susan Sundwall

078 March 9, 2019
“My Mother at 19”
by John Guzlowski

079 March 10, 2019
by Chera Hammons Miller

080 March 12, 2019
“Of Water and Echo”
by Gillian Cummings

081   082   083    March 14, 2019
“Little Political Sense”   “Crossing Kansas with Jim
Morrison”  “The Land of Sky and Blue Waters”
by Dr. Lindsey Martin-Bowen

084 March 15, 2019
“A Tune To Remember”
by Anna Evans

085 March 19, 2019
“At the End of Time (Wish You Were Here)
by Jeannine Hall Gailey

086 March 20, 2019
“Garden of Gethsemane”
by Marletta Hemphill

087 March 21, 2019
“Letters From a War”
by Chelsea Dingman

088 March 26, 2019
by Bob Heman

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